Saturday, March 23, 2013

Infinity and Me – Kids Grapple with the Mind-Boggling

This week I read Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford to a few speech groups. It is beautifully illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska. 
 Infinity and Me

At first I was hesitant to read it to the kindergarteners. I thought they might not be ready for such an abstract concept but I needn’t have worried. Before reading, I asked the kids if they knew what “infinity” meant.  They didn’t. But by the end of the book, they had a pretty good idea.

The story begins,

“The night I got my new red shoes, I couldn’t wait to wear them to school. I was too excited to sleep, so I went outside and sat on the lawn. When I looked up, I shivered. The sky seemed so huge and cold.

How many stars were in the sky? A million? A billion? Maybe the number was as big as infinity.”

Uma, the contemplative child with the new red shoes, grappled with this concept and looked for enlightenment by asking her friends, grandmother, and teachers how they imagined infinity. Her friend Charlie told her infinity is “a giant number that keeps growing bigger and bigger forever.” After hearing from the others, Uma realized something. “It was hard to talk about infinity without talking about ‘forever.’” She started to wonder what she’d like to do forever and came up with a lot of possibilities like having recess forever, staying eight years old forever, or licking an ice-cream cone forever. My students got rather excited about some of those possibilities and added a few of their own.

When I asked the kids what they thought about infinity, Liam said, “If you ate infinity potatoes, you would get bigger and bigger forever.”

Enrique said, “Infinity minutes is a long, long, long, long, long time.”

Joden wanted to know, “What’s infinity plus infinity?” (I’ll have to consult a mathematician on that one.)  

Zayd asked, “Does Googol come before infinity?” And to think I was worried about introducing this complex concept to my students!

Toward the end of the story, when Uma spoke of her grandmother she said,

            “Right then I knew – my love for her was as big as . . .”

I didn’t need to finish the sentence. The kids finished it for me.

Afterward, Liam said, “Do you know how big LOVE is? It’s as big as this.” He spread his arms out in front of him, edging them wider and wider, until he reached around his back and clasped his hands together, leaving all of infinity outside his circled body, snug in a cocoon of unending love. Liam has great insight for a five-year-old. Actually, I’d say he has great insight for one of any age. He is beginning to grasp the concept of infinity and something more besides.


  1. I would have loved to be at that session! You should never underestimate what a kindergartener understands or a child of any age for that matter!

    Great choice for a book!

  2. This si the second time I've seen this book mentioned, and I'm definately going to have to look for it.

    My oldest son was about four when he first heard the idea of infinity. I remember him out bike riding with a neighbour and they'd bike in big circles around in front of our houses and talk about infinity. Could you have an infinity of blocks?

  3. How interesting. Your kindergartners are a bunch of wiz kids. This is an interesting way of reviewing a book. I love the view points of the children.

    This is my first time here and I enjoyed your post. Keep on hopping!

    Sue @ (hostess)

  4. What sweet kids! I love their responses. It's interesting because on the one hand they need to understand the concept, but then they also need the language to demonstrate their understanding of that concept. Every night my son and I have this little routine where I say "I love you."; he then responds "I love you more"; I respond "I love you most"; and then he says, "I love you most, most, most, most to infinity." How sweet is THAT? <3

    Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

  5. Infinity and Beyond! What a lovely book and great insights from the children.
    Cool Mom for Stanley and Katrina
    Hopping along on the Kid Lit Blog Hop